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Prize Structure and Information in Tournaments: Experimental Evidence

  • Richard B. Freeman
  • Alexander M. Gelber

This paper examines behavior in a tournament in which we vary the tournament prize structure and the available information about participants' skill at the task of solving mazes. The number of solved mazes is lowest when payments are independent of performance; higher when a single, large prize is given; and highest when multiple, differentiated prizes are given. This result is strongest when we inform participants about the number of mazes they and others solved in a pre-tournament round. Some participants reported that they solved more mazes than they actually solved, and this misreporting also peaked with multiple differentiated prizes. (JEL D82)

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Article provided by American Economic Association in its journal American Economic Journal: Applied Economics.

Volume (Year): 2 (2010)
Issue (Month): 1 (January)
Pages: 149-64

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Handle: RePEc:aea:aejapp:v:2:y:2010:i:1:p:149-64
Note: DOI: 10.1257/app.2.1.149
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  1. Muriel Niederle & Lise Vesterlund, 2005. "Do Women Shy Away from Competition? Do Men Compete too Much?," Discussion Papers 04-030, Stanford Institute for Economic Policy Research.
  2. Alm, James & McClelland, Gary H. & Schulze, William D., 1992. "Why do people pay taxes?," Journal of Public Economics, Elsevier, vol. 48(1), pages 21-38, June.
  3. Oriana Bandiera & Iwan Barankay & Imran Rasul, 2005. "Social Preferences and the Response to Incentives: Evidence from Personnel Data," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 120(3), pages 917-962, August.
  4. Edward P. Lazear & Sherwin Rosen, 1979. "Rank-Order Tournaments as Optimum Labor Contracts," NBER Working Papers 0401, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  5. Brian A. Jacob & Steven D. Levitt, 2003. "Rotten Apples: An Investigation of the Prevalence and Predictors of Teacher Cheating," NBER Working Papers 9413, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  6. Ehrenberg, Ronald G & Bognanno, Michael L, 1990. "Do Tournaments Have Incentive Effects?," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 98(6), pages 1307-24, December.
  7. Uri Gneezy & Muriel Niederle & Aldo Rustichini, 2003. "Performance In Competitive Environments: Gender Differences," The Quarterly Journal of Economics, MIT Press, vol. 118(3), pages 1049-1074, August.
  8. Benny Moldovanu & Aner Sela, 2001. "The Optimal Allocation of Prizes in Contests," American Economic Review, American Economic Association, vol. 91(3), pages 542-558, June.
  9. repec:dgr:kubcen:200343 is not listed on IDEAS
  10. Bull, Clive & Schotter, Andrew & Weigelt, Keith, 1987. "Tournaments and Piece Rates: An Experimental Study," Journal of Political Economy, University of Chicago Press, vol. 95(1), pages 1-33, February.
  11. Müller, W. & Schotter, A., 2003. "Workaholics and Drop Outs in Optimal Organizations," Discussion Paper 2003-43, Tilburg University, Center for Economic Research.
  12. Richard B. Freeman, 2006. "Optimal Inequality/Optimal Incentives: Evidence from a Tournament," NBER Working Papers 12588, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
  13. Nalbantian, Haig & Schotter, Andrew, 1994. "Productivity Under Group Incentives: An Experimental Study," Working Papers 94-04, C.V. Starr Center for Applied Economics, New York University.
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